MIAMI, Florida –Save Our Kids from Gov. Bush

On Mother’s Day scores of elected officials, community and religious leaders launched a campaign defying Governor Jeb Bush’s Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test (FCAT). The group charges that the test discriminates against African-American and Hispanic students.

The Florida Department of Education has announced that 13,000 high school seniors – 5,900 in Miami – failed the test this month and will therefore not graduate.

If no corrective measures are taken by May 22, the group vows to launch a boycott of the state’s tourism, sugar and citrus industries.

Florida House Whip Frederica Wilson (D-Miami) said she could not understand how the governor could find funding for 4,000 new prison beds, but no money for education or social services.

“I am outraged. I am livid today … I am upset with the governor of the State of Florida because he knew from the beginning who was going to pass and who wasn’t going to pass,” she said. “You will not destroy my children. If you do not adjust FCAT, we are going to boycott this state in a way you’ve never seen.”

OMAHA, Nebraska –Captive meeting turns expensive

President Bush, on the stump to sell his tax plan, scheduled a photo-op at the non-union Airlite Plastics plant, a new facility employing 570 people. Plans for his visit called for closing the plant, stopping production for 12 hours, and paying only 15 workers to stand near the podium during his speech. The other 300 workers would not be paid.

Outraged workers said that Bush’s visit would cost them over $100 each in lost wages. Just four hours before the president’s plane landed, Brad Crosby, the plant’s chief executive, announced that all would be paid their regular wages during the visit.

Outside the plant, Secret Service staff herded protesters organized by the Fair Taxes for All Coalition out of sight of the presidential motorcade.

SACRAMENTO, California – Budget deficit axes healthcare, food and public safety

While the Laci Peterson story has dominated national headlines, many seniors here are wondering where their next meal is coming from.

Sacramento County faces a $101 million deficit in its budget. County officials are preparing to close meal centers that feed 500 retirees a day and to cut health services for 38,000 people. Staffing cuts at homeless shelters will reduce available beds by 40 percent. The Department of Human Assistance will lose 330 jobs and the Department of Health and Human Services will lose 223 jobs. Legal services, public safety personnel and the coroner’s staff will also be slashed.

“In my 15 years’ experience, we’ve never had to cut homeless programs,” said Cheryl Davis, director of the Department of Human Assistance. “We’ve cut out all the fat. We’ve cut the muscle. Now we’re cutting the bone.”

OLYMPIA, Washington –Stop AIDS, violence and poverty

In April, Lynn McMullen and Jodi Bernstein were part of a group of 34 women who traveled to South Africa. They came back and applied what they learned by organizing a Mother’s Day march calling for money to combat AIDS and appealing for an end to violence and poverty.

McMullen told a rally that 26,000 of the world’s children die each day. “If those 26,000 mothers could speak, they would tell you that the four biggest causes of death [of children] are AIDS, poverty, war and debt,” she said.

Cindy Corrie, whose daughter Rachel – a peace activist who was killed in March by an Israeli bulldozer while she was trying to block a house demolition in the Gaza Strip – said, “There are times when I stayed quiet because I thought others knew more. I am no longer intimidated by the experts and the critics. I believe I can speak out and I have the responsibility as a mother to speak out for peace.”

LANSING, Michigan – Governor to veto partial birth abortion bill

The state legislature has passed a bill barring partial birth abortion, even if it is the only way to save a mother’s life, by a vote of 74-29. Newly elected Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm has announced that she will veto the legislation as a threat to women’s health.

Previous bills banning partial birth abortion passed the legislature, were signed by then Republican Governor Engler, and then declared unconstitutional by state courts.

To counter the expected veto, Michigan Right to Life forces have threatened to organize a ballot initiative calling for the ban. The Michigan American Civil Liberties Union predicts that the courts will again throw out the ban should it pass.

National clips are compiled by Denise Winebrenner Edwards (